WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2013 — Last Sunday night basic cable officially came of age with the broadcast of “The Walking Dead” on AMC. An astonishing 16.1 million people tuned in for the fourth season premiere making it the most watched single episode of a show in basic cable history. Despite formidable competition from NFL football, baseball playoffs, “Homeland” and “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Walking Dead” was the clear winner in its 9 p.m. time slot. (Join The Walking Dead Live Chat tonight 9:00 p.m. or scroll below TV Den Schedule)
“The Walking Dead” premiere ranked as the #1 telecast in adults 18-49, outperforming all programs. The 8.2 rating in the 18-49 demographic made it the top-rated entertainment series telecast of the season, even beating “The Big Bang Theory” on CBS.
But the unprecedented success of the show has its drawbacks. Although the premiere was well received by fans, the top complaint was the number of commercials during the broadcast. It was almost as if we watched an hour-long broadcast of ads just to get quick glimpses of the actual show. As with most things these days, the reason can be found by following the money.
The monster (pun intended) ratings for the season premiere means AMC is asking as much as $600,000 for a 30-second commercial. By comparison, Sunday-night NFL games, the usual top ratings draw, have ad rates around $570,000.
But as long as the huge windfall is applied to the budget of “The Walking Dead,” fans will endure the commercial side of the show. That means we better see a lot less of Rick getting gardening tips from Hershel and a lot more of the crossbow wielding Daryl slaying zombies.
Last week Washington Times Communities provided a lot of fans with a live chat event so they could share observations during the many commercials. Join us again tonight starting at 9 p.m.
For the few people who won’t be watching football or zombies, maybe basic cable’s current obsession with Alaska is a viable alternative. No fewer than five programs about everything from homesteading to finding a man in Alaska air tonight. And it’s not even winter yet in the Lower 48.
So many reality shows are filmed in the 49th state these days that it makes us wonder if there is anyone left in Alaska who hasn’t been followed around by an annoying camera crew. Maybe it’s Sarah Palin’s fault for getting all this started.
Speaking of Mama Grizzly, here’s a thought: if we could just figure out a way to get the actual grizzly bears in Alaska to mount a mass attack at the first sign of a camera crew, that would be one reality show really worth watching.
All times are EDT:
CBS: 60 Minutes: (New) Steve Kroft reports on how members of Congress often use funds donated to political-action committees for their own personal use; former vice president Dick Cheney discusses his heart issues. Also: efforts to save the endangered humpback whale.
ABC: Once Upon A Time: (New) Mr. Gold decides to confront Pan; one of Pan’s most loyal Lost Boys holds Neal captive; David fights against the poison; Rumpelstiltskin searches for Bae.
FOX: The Simpsons: (Repeat) With the end of the world looming, Homer decides to join an off-the-grid group of survivalists who’ve set up a secret sanctuary outside of Springfield to prep for the apocalypse. However, a skeptical Marge is suspicious of the plans.
NBC: Sunday Night Football: (Live) Broncos at Colts: Peyton Manning faces his former team when he leads the undefeated Broncos into Indianapolis to battle Andrew Luck and the Colts. From Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
CBS: Amazing Race 23: (New) Racers take a plunge into the Arctic in Svolvaer, Norway; Marie and Tim have a tough decision to make.
FOX: The Simpsons: (Repeat) A shaving experiment leaves Milhouse looking like a dead ringer for his father, while Marge fears Maggie is slipping into the clutches of children’s television.
ABC: Revenge: (New) Emily must rely on help from an unlikely source after her biggest takedown goes awry; Victoria attempts to secure her independence.
FOX: Family Guy: (Repeat) Brian is riding high after his play proves to be a big hit in town, but he is soon trumped as a writer when Stewie pens a piece that winds up on Broadway, leading to problems between the two authors.
PBS: Masterpiece Classic: (New) As “The Paradise” continues, the rivalry between Denise and Clara intensifies after Miss Audrey falls ill and Moray must appoint one of them as her substitute. In other events, Katherine attracts a new suitor, but is conflicted about the attention.
SHO: Homeland: (New) Saul and Fara follow the money trail to an unexpected location, and Carrie meets with a new client.
HBO: Boardwalk Empire: (New) Willie’s unpopular decision pits Eli versus Nucky; Margaret has a surprise encounter at her job on Wall Street; Luciano is sent to Tampa to deal with Petrucelli; Gillian tries to kick her heroin habit with Roy’s help; Valentin increases his control in Atlantic City while Chalky is distracted; Al Capone urges Johnny Torrio to go to war with Dean O’Banion.
CBS: The Good Wife: (New) Alicia tries to obtain Lockhart/Gardner files as she prepares to exit the firm; faced with a sexual harassment lawsuit, the firm hires Elsbeth Tascioni.
FOX: American Dad: (Repeat) Francine attempts to spice things up with Stan, while Hayley’s dip back into the dating pool doesn’t go so swimmingly, and she reluctantly decides to accept Snot’s invitation to dinner.
ABC: Betrayal: (New) Sara is confronted about her recent whereabouts; Karsten is willing to do anything to stay in power; T.J. seeks independence.
SHO: Masters of Sex: (New) New participants are recruited on campus for the study and Johnson is shocked when her ex-husband wants to sign up. Meanwhile, Masters’ mother visits but her new take on life stirs up painful memories; and Libby’s attempt at playing matchmaker for Virginia and Ethan doesn’t go as smoothly as she had hoped.
CBS: The Mentalist: (New) Jane creates a phony list of Red John suspects and it gets stolen, endangering the lives of those named on the list.
New episodes of:
Alaska: the Last Frontier Exposed at 8 p.m. on DSC
Toy Hunter at 8 p.m. on Travel Channel
The Real Housewives of New Jersey at 8 p.m. on BRAVO
Making Monsters at 9 p.m. on Travel Channel
Alaska: the Last Frontier at 9 p.m. on DSC
Long Island Medium at 9 p.m. on TLC
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown at 9 p.m. on CNN
Drugs Inc. at 9 p.m. on NGC
Drop Dead Diva at 9 p.m. on LIFE
The Walking Dead at 9 p.m. on AMC
Call of the Wildman at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on Animal Planet
Breaking Magic at 9, 9:30, 10 and 10:30 p.m. on SCI
Alaska State Troopers at 10 p.m. on NGC
Witches of East End at 10 p.m. on LIFE
Talking Dead at 10 p.m. on AMC
Alaskan Women Looking For Love at 10 p.m. on TLC
Yukon Men at 10 p.m. on DSC
For movie lovers:
Pitch Perfect on CINEMAX
Hitch on ENC
Sgt. Bilko on FLIX
Step Brothers on FX
Lover Come Back on TCM
Gladiator on TNT
Life of Pi on HBO
Hostel Part II on IFC
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on Syfy
Real Steel on TMC
The Pianist at 9:30 p.m. on SHO
Blues Brothers 2000 at 9:35 p.m. on FLIX
Broken City at 10 p.m. on CINEMAX
The Wedding Planner at 10 p.m. on ENC
Men in Black 3 at 10:10 p.m. on STARZ
The Walking Dead Live Chat begins at 9:00p.m. Eastern